Relationship Framework

This series on Relationships is meant to help us avoid painful pitfalls with those we love. We’re doing it by studying the life of an Old Testament figure named Abraham. His story speaks to all of our stories, no matter the season of life you’re in. 

Last week, we covered some principles that work for every relationship. In a couple weeks I will talk about Parenting. Today, I want to unpack a message for those who are living in a SINGLE SEASON. 

Sixty-one percent of adults (18+) in the US are unmarried. This demographic is a diverse group of ages, backgrounds, and stories. Too often, being single is portrayed as a problem, but from a scriptural perspective, God, in His wisdom, chose to give every human being in history a “single” season because it is so valuable. It may be the most important season in our development because scripture says the prerequisite for loving anyone else is learning to love yourself.

Although some people are called to a single life, research shows nearly 90% want to get married. If so many want to be married, why are so many people waiting so long to get married? In short, I believe the reason is that the transition from singleness to marriage is more difficult than ever before. The dating culture that is built on algorithms and scams, overvaluing sex and undervaluing friendship, bad dates and shallow people, confusion that comes from trying to make progress but having no commitment, and a low grade fear of an unsuccessful marriage all contribute to the delay.

But, finding love doesn’t have to be dysfunctional. God cares about every part of your life… including your love life. He can deliver you to His destination! His word will enlighten you. His grace will sustain you and His spirit will lead you so that you arrive at your next season healthy, happy, and whole!

In Genesis 24, Abraham was coming to the end of his life and realized his son was almost 40 and still single! This was no small issue because whoever Isaac married would be at the center of God’s plan to birth a nation. In this passage, I see a framework for finding love successfully!

1. Don’t date ALONE. The very first thing you notice about Issacs’s process is that it wasn’t Issacs’ process alone. He had a group of godly people helping him. Marriage is when TWO become ONE, but the best marriages include more people than two. Multiple people were active in Isaac’s case as ‘scouts’ who looked for potential partners, as ‘gatekeepers’ who ensured the pace never got out of control, and as ‘counselors’ who provided a place to process feelings. Please note: If you are avoiding input and help, this should be a SIGN! Check in with parents, mature, godly friends, and your pastor! The idea of including a whole group of people in making your decision to date may not seem normal. But from what I see, normal is not working. We don’t want normal results, we want God-results! 

2. Don’t omit GOD’S VOICE. One of my favorite parts of this story is that Issacs’s servant was not looking for a girl. He was looking for God’s will. That’s why he made prayer central to the process. 

Prayer is not as shallow as leaving God a daily voice memo of things we’d like Him to do. Real, biblical prayer isn’t about what God does for us – but what He does in us! It’s about tuning our heart toward Him. The most important part of prayer is NOT speaking, but listening. Rebekah wasn’t the only woman the servant saw, but she was the one God’s spirit highlighted. When we make prayer a priority – which is simply asking the Lord to speak and then tuning your ear to Him - He will guide you through the process. 

3. Don’t sacrifice CHARACTER. The Bible is clear that Rebekah had a beautiful appearance, but it expounds much more on the contents of her character. Rebekah was…

  • Productive - The servant asked for a drink, and she offered to water his camels. This girl was not afraid to work!
  • Presentable - She was well dressed, looked the servant in the eye, and was able to carry on a conversation. You’re dating who the person is and NOT the POTENTIAL they have. How do they treat their family, the waitress, their co-workers, or friends? How do they talk about themselves? How are they growing? Do they lie? Do they overcommit? It is all telling you something! 
  • Pleasant under Pressure - For 500 gallons, Rebekah remained servant-hearted. She never lost her temper, never complained, never cut a corner. It is important to date long enough to see the other person in the good times and bad times, when things are great and when they are not. When you choose a spouse, you are not only choosing a friend, lover, or mate – you are also choosing someone to share the worst moments of your life with. And as you know, the worst moments usually bring out the worst in us, so choose someone who welcomes the work of God’s spirit, someone who’s worst is still better than most people’s best. Choose someone with character. 

4. Don’t dismiss COMPATIBILITY. Compatibility means my partner and I pursue the same thing – God and his mission for our lives! Rebekah was committing to leave the familiar, carry God’s promise and follow His calling. This is what I call ‘the POWER of the PULL.’ BEFORE you LINK UP your life with someone, know where they are going! Those who pull toward God’s word and toward His mission have considerably stronger marriages because they’re finding satisfaction, confidence, and identity in Him. Finding someone who is passionately pursuing God may be the most important rule of them all! 

So, HOW to find them? Become one of them. It's the law of probability. If I want to find someone living for God’s glory, I’m most likely to do it living for God’s glory! This is why Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."